Archive for February 26th, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Arab Future, to the Best in their History

[Main Link: RiaNovosti, Febr 25, 2011] Imagine you were an expert on Arab affairs, and asked this question:

Is the revolution in Libya the last revolution in the Middle East, or…?

Best of their History

Best in their History

Professor Vitaly Naumkin faced this  question (a video of the interview is here), and he probably gave the only kind of answer that does not  make an expert look stupid, or somewhat unethical:

In general, I am against looking at the Middle East as it is a horserace, making a bid who is the next one. I am against it. I think there are regimes, states, nations and I hope that they will avoid the destiny of the fallen regimes. But it is absolutely necessary for the rulers of the rest of the states starting from Yemen to some other states to start reforms that can improve the social-economic and political situation in their countries in order to make people feel free and equal and to give them more opportunities to be represented in power and in public life.
I believe that the Arab nation is a great civilization and it has a lot of potential to develop and to make this transformation to the best in their history.

Naumkin, director of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and president of the International Center for Strategic and Political Studies and Chair of Faculty of World Politics, Moscow State University, did however make a very plain statement at the beginning of his interview with RiaNovosti on Friday, saying about the Libyan revolution that

I don’t think it was orchestrated from abroad, I think it is a genuine revolution. Whatever we call it – revolution, rebellion, it is a popular move, and it hasn’t been orchestrated from abroad.

And in Egypt?

I think in Egypt there were probably some elements of orchestration, if not from abroad but at least from some well-organized groups probably inside of Egypt. I won’t subscribe to any conspiracy theory because I believe that all these movements are locally oriented and locally motivated but in Libya there is clear influence of the Egyptian revolution.


Thanks to FOARP for the Novosti interview link.


Chinese Arab-world Coverage, February 26, 2011
Most of the Egyptians, in actuality…, People Daily, Febr 22, 2011
Deng, and a few Words about History, December 18, 2008

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Short but Stimulating: Chinese Arab world Coverage

Events in the Arab world haven’t feature prominently on the Chinese media since Thursday, in contrast to most international media coverage. But coverage does, of course, exist.

[Main Link: Enorth / Xinhua international press review, February 24, 2011.] Xinhua quoted from foreign sources for its readers’ reference on Thursday, starting with a Russian Strategic Culture Foundation online article whose title might be translated as “Freedom comes when we come”.

Russian Strategic Culture Foundation website, February 22, 2011

Russian Strategic Culture Foundation, Febr 22, 2011

The American department of state hasn’t, even for a moment, stopped its destructive work in enemy and friendly countries, by means of its powerful machinery of financial lubrication. After all, that’s the mentality of their foreign policies, acting as a democratic dictator (美国对外政策的“民主独裁”心理就是这样).

The Russian article apparently accuses American diplomacy of equating democracy and American ideas, and American foreign interests. The dramatic events that unfolded in the Arab world showed once again that America didn’t understand the concept of internal affairs, such as non-interference with them. It would delete a number of dictators from its friends list, and arrange for new dictators “elected by the people”. So long as it helped solving America’s problems, the state department didn’t mind crowds on foreign squares, and fresh blood spilled there. Britain’s Daily Telegraph is quoted as reporting that Egyptian dissidents, secretly supported by Washington, had promised to organize a regime change campaign in 2011 [apparently a reference to this leak from the US embassy in Cairo].

On April 6, 2008, more than 100,000 Egyptian internet users had supported strikes in the Egyptian city of Mahalla (迈哈莱市). The strikes then turned nation-wide. Early in December 2008, some of the organizers were invited to take part in a meeting of young global leaders where promotion of freedom and fairness by means of digital technology, rejection of violence, extremism and the best ways to counter oppression were discussed. American companies such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, MTV, and Columbia University’s Law School had taken part in the building of the alliance. [This was apparently all quoted from a printed edition of the Telegraph, as I can’t find it online – JR].

The Telegraph confirms, according to the Russian Foundation website as quoted by Xinhua, that the 4-6 movement got Washington’s attention (《每日电讯报》证实,“4月6日”运动得到了华盛顿的关注).

While the alliance’s influence in Mubarak’s resignation was hard to determine, it was an established fact that the 4-6 movement had promised “regime change” to the American state department, three years ago in New York, Xinhua quoted the Russian article.

Xinhua then quoted from the New York Times. While the state department had encouraged Iranian demonstrators to take to the streets, the Obama administration rather urged the king of Bahrain, an important ally (and the naval base for the 5th US Fleet), to smooth away the peoples’ discontent (消除人民的不满).  Two protesters had been killed in Bahrain. But Obama hadn’t mentioned violence in Bahrain. Rather, he had drawn a line of distinction between the successful rebellion in Egypt, and Iran’s repressive action, saying that  “the difference is that Iran’s government reacted with shooting, beating, and arresting people.”

Xinhua’s press review ended with excerpts from The Times‘ (Britain) online edition of February 21, saying that economic aid would help democracy in the Arab world. There are currently no comments on the article.

This Xinhua press review is the latest minor headline on the Arab world which can be found on the Enorth (Tianjin) website. Huanqiu Shibao, on the other hand, is more up-to-date, with a headline story today about the US planning sanctions against Libya, but wanting to safeguard the country’s wealth:

Huanqiu Shibao reporter Zhong Weidong reports that according to Agence France-Presse (AFP), US president Obama announced on February 25 local time that sanctions would be imposed on the Gaddafi government, and added that these were designed to punish the Libyan government’s crackdown on demonstrators and to weaken the regime. The report says that Obama, by his presidential powers, froze Gaddafi’s and his four sons’ assets in America. Obama said in a statement that the sanctions were aimed at the Gaddafi government only, not against the possessions of the Libyan people. The Gaddafi government’s violations of international regulations needed to be investigated. He also said: “Therefore, the sanctions are aimed at the Gaddafi government, and America will protect the wealth of the Libyan people”.

The news article is just this short, but it has gotten 143 comments within some nine hours. I’m not sure if there have been any deleted, but the reactions that can be read there are most or all critical of Washington’s reaction to, or rather, what is seen as Washington’s driving role in the crisis.

The formulation of the headline certainly helped to channel the debate into the right direction –  the mention of Libya’s wealth (and Washington wanting to protect it, even if this only refers to Libyan assets inside the US) is stimulating enough.

One of the more recent comments does however seem to feel that the short Huanqiu newsarticle lacks the bigger picture, and offers his own geopolitical view:

Americans are too bad, they are simply no humans. Whereever China builds, it [America] strikes a war, to contain China’s development. Iraq, for example, and Afghanistan, where China had investment, but when they made war, China’s investments were busted and not returned. America takes the opportunity to start the war machine, build more arms, to reduce the jobless rate, to turn the domestic economic crisis abroad. It pulls the economic growth to alleviate domestic economic pressure, to promote their so-called democracy and human rights, values etc., to occupy the oil resources of other countries once again. They use the control of oil resources to contain China’s economic development.  (美国人太坏了,简直不是人。中国在哪里建设,他在哪里打仗,为的是遏制中国的发展。比如伊拉克,阿富汗等中国都有投资和建设,但是他在那里打仗,中国的投资就泡汤了,收不回来了。美国还借机开动战争机器,加大生产武器,降低失业率,把国内的经济危机转嫁到国外。拉动他的经济增长,以缓解国内的经济压力,推行他们的所谓的民主和人权,和价值观等,又可以霸占别国的石油资源。用控制石油资源来遏制中国经济的发展。 –2011-02-26 17:30)

Recent Chinese media coverage seems to operate a two-stages system. On most regional websites, such as Enorth for Tianjin, the news from Arabia don’t feature prominently anyway. If people show no great interest in the international news, that seems to be the ideal solution for the propaganda departments. But this doesn’t work on Huanqiu Shibao. While every hopeful counterrevolutionary is currently laughed at for drawing links between North Africa and China, Chinese propaganda itself assists its more curious readers in identifying Washington’s “black hand” in the events – from North Africa to China.


Propaganda Department of the CCP, Wikipedia

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